what they said: shirley
i read yesterday's news today

what i watched: oscar contenders

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020). I wrote of the first Borat movie, "Simply put, Borat is a mean-spirited movie. Nothing wrong with that, and Baron Cohen isn't making any claims to being kind." The same holds for this sequel. Most of Sasha Baron Cohen's targets are deserving ... America is a pretty fucked-up country right now ... but that can't hide the fact that Baron Cohen gets people to participate via subterfuge and then presents them in the worst possible light. Still, Rudy Giuliani is both deserving and fucked-up, and I don't mind a bit that he comes off like a pedophile. Meanwhile, Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova steals every scene she is in.

Geezer Cinema/Film Fatales #108: Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, 2020). It's an accident that these two movies ended up in one post ... there couldn't be two movies as different as these. Nomadland is based on a non-fiction book by Jessica Bruder about aging nomads in America. It tells the story of people in their 60s and older who live outside of "the norm", traveling in vans and RVs, picking up seasonal work, and dealing with life as it comes. There is nothing mean-spirited about Nomadland. Writer/director Chloé Zhao treats all of the characters with respect, never condemning them or even being judgmental. The film is honest about the lives of these people ... they didn't necessarily choose the life of a nomad (Fern, played by Frances McDormand, lived in a company town that was shut down ... her husband was dead, she had nowhere to go, so she hit the road). The non-professional actors, playing versions of themselves, are believable, exhibiting great trust  in Zhao to present their lives without too much negativity. What plot there is addresses Fern's growth over time, but in the end, we're left with a character study without much plot at all. Fern gets a job, works a bit, lives in her van, the jobs ends, she gets in her van and drives to the next job, and it starts all over again. She meets some interesting people along the way, but by the end of the film, it is clear that for whatever reason, Fern was never going to settle down. Repetitive without being boring, both casual and intense, Nomadland felt longer than its 108 minutes, but that wasn't a problem, because the time spent with the characters was a unique experience. McDormand's fearless, un-actorly performance fits so perfectly with her non-professional co-stars that the actress almost disappears.

(Letterboxd list of Geezer Cinema movies)

(Letterboxd list of Film Fatales movies)


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